Everyone loves to capture a great photo of their catch, and in the era of social media, it’s fun to share those images with friends, family and fellow fishers. But how can you ensure that your fishing happy snaps are up to scratch? These days, just about every angler takes a camera with them whenever they hit the water, even if it’s only the one built into their mobile phone.
Digital cameras (including the phone variety) are getting better, easier to use and more affordable every year, so there’s really no excuse for not coming home with a few halfway decent images of your latest adventure.
What you do with those photos is a personal choice. You might e-mail them to friends, post them on your Instagram account or Facebook page, show them to club-mates at a meeting night, put them on an internet forum, blog them, or even submit them to a magazine like this one. Whatever their fate, the better those images are, the more impact they’ll have… But what do I mean by ‘better’?
Any good photo needs to be in focus and properly exposed: neither too dark nor too light. It also helps if the horizon is reasonably straight and the picture is composed so the subject stands out, and extraneous objects in the background don’t distract the viewer. Beyond these basics, there’s a world of difference between an adequate fishing photo and a brilliant one.
‘Grip-and-grin’ is a term used (sometimes disparagingly) to describe the photos that dominate fishing magazines, websites and anglers’ photo albums. These images consist of a delighted hunter proudly showing off his or her prize catch while smiling at the camera. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a thousand! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this style of shot, especially if it’s done well. In fact, grip-and-grins are the bread-and-butter of fishing photography, and most fellow anglers love looking at them. They also make great ‘brag shots’ and lasting memory joggers… if they’re any good!
To produce a quality grip-and-grin, you need a live, wet, healthy-looking fish that’s being supported by the angler, with no blood, mud or sand clinging to it. The standard grip-and-grin can be further improved by slightly angling the fish’s head towards the camera, and by minimising the amount of its body obscured by the angler’s hands.
Avoid the exaggerated, extended-arm stance that supposedly makes the fish look bigger. Few people fall for this, especially when your subject’s hands appear twice the size of their heads! Instead, have your angler strike a comfortable, balanced pose with bent arms and encourage them to look genuinely happy. Work with the sun behind the photographer (so it illuminates the subject), or consider using flash to fill in the shadows under those ubiquitous hat brims. Finally, focus the camera on the eye of the fish, hold the shutter button halfway down to maintain that point of focus (or use the camera’s focus lock) and carefully re-frame (with a straight horizon) before shooting. Get those basics right and your grip-and-grins will start to sing.
As an aside, I’ve spent my working life looking for the ‘perfect’ camera for anglers. I haven’t found it, but I’m currently using something that comes close to achieving that mark. It’s Nikon’s AW1: a compact, mirror-less camera with inter-changeable lenses that’s capable of capturing high quality stills (both JPEG and RAW), as well as very passable video. But the best thing about the AW1 is the fact that it’s waterproof to a depth of 15m, shockproof if dropped from a height of 2m, and extremely well sealed against dust and grit. It’s not indestructible, but it is tough!
A lot of the photos that accompany my ‘Back To Basics’ column each month (especially the underwater images) have been shot using Nikon’s AW1. If you’d like to see my full video review of this nifty camera, scan the QR code, or search ‘Nikon AW1 Fisherman’s Review’, or go to http://goo.gl/WPHypg.
Until next time, happy snapping!Reads: 250